A piece of artifice, a symbol of defiance against mortality, yet subject to the same laws of nature as the warm and fluttering little sparrow.
In the end, it is not in the lofty ivory tower that we find our salvation, but in the dark depth of the earth, the sea, and space itself, where nameless things strike fear in hearts brittle of hubris.
Description: Helen Keller with her Akita dog, Kamikaze. She is standing, and the dog is on his hind legs, with front paws in Helen’s hands. The back of the photographs reads: “Helen Keller and Kamikaze, the Akita dog from Japan.” She received Kamikaze in 1937. After his death within the year, she received his brother, Kenzan in 1938, as an official gift from the Japanese government. Helen Keller said of the Akita dogs, “If ever there was an angel in fur, it was Kamikaze. I know I shall never feel quite the same tenderness for any other pet. The Akita dog has all the qualities that appeal to me — he is gentle, companionable and trusty.”
Creator: Keith Henney
Date: circa 1938
Format: black and white photograph
Digital Identifier: AG62-5-029
Rights: Samuel P. Hayes Research Library, Perkins School for the Blind, Watertown, MA
Aaron Douglas, Charleston, gouache and pencil on paper board, ca. 1928
18 x 12 9/16 in. (45.7 x 31.9 cm)
North Carolina Museum of Art; purchased with funds from the North Carolina State Art Society (Robert F. Phifer Bequest and the State of North Carolina, by exchange, 2005.15. Reproduced by permission of VAGA.
An African American modernist artist active in the Harlem Renaissance, Aaron Douglas produced eight gouache illustrations for the English edition of Magie Noir (Black Magic, 1928), a short story collection by the French writer Paul Morand that portrayed black-white interactions in Africa, the West Indies, and the U.S. In the story Charleston, an American woman raised in Charleston justifies her hysteric fear of black men that leads to the brutal murder of a black saxophone player in France—a “purely American tragedy,” writes Morand, “acted inside provincial France.” The painting illustrates Douglas’s blend of Art Deco design with his unique depictions of slit-eyed figures in silhouette, overlaid with sweeping rays and arcs to intensify the movement and spatial boundaries in the work. Enlarge the image to note the slight use of orange accent in the painting.